New York Yankees
Joe Girardi wasn't sure what to expect from Freddy Garcia on Monday. The veteran right-hander hadn't started a game since Aug. 7 due to a cut on his right ring finger that sent him to the DL.
What Girardi and the Yankees got from Garcia was pretty much the same pitcher they'd seen all season -- a guy who makes up for a lack of velocity with great location and knows how to keep hitters off balance.
Garcia limited Baltimore to just two hits over six innings. Mark Reynolds hit Garcia's one glaring mistake -- a hanging breaking ball -- over the wall in the fifth inning. Other than that, it was smooth sailing for the veteran righty, who walked one and struck out five.
"That's as good as it gets. He hung one slider to Mark Reynolds, gave us six good innings," Girardi said. "I would have signed up for that if someone were to ask me what we were going to get from him tonight."
After getting what he would have signed up for, Girardi penciled Garcia into his pitching rotation. The Yankees are expected to cut the rotation from six to five starters after the three-game series in Boston but Garcia won't be a candidate for demotion.
Girardi confirmed Monday night that the veteran righty will remain in the rotation.
Garcia was nonplussed when given the news.
"If we go five, we go five, if we go six we go six," he said. "I try to stay with the group and try to win some games and try to clinch early."
Clinching anything is along way away but the Yankees climbed to within 1 1/2 games of idle Boston in the AL East on the strength of Garcia's two-hit performance over six innings on Monday.
Starting for the first time in 21 days, the veteran looked sharp early on. He retired 13 of the first 14 hitters faced before allowing a homer to Reynolds. Particularly encouraging for the Yankees is the fact that Garcia's splitter -- his best pitch and one he could not throw due to the cut on his right index finger -- was effective.
"He seemed like he didn't miss a beat," Derek Jeter said. "He went out there and did what he was doing he was before."
But the whole night wasn't a breeze for Garcia.
With two out in the sixth, the veteran righty threw a 1-2 fastball to Nick Markakis that appeared to be a strike. But home plate umpire Vic Carapazza called it a ball. Garcia was visibly upset after the pitch and ended up walking Markakis.
But he bounced back to get Adam Jones to fly out to left.
"I made that pitch," Garcia said.
At the end of the night, Garcia had made enough pitches to get his 11th win of the season -- thanks in part to Nick Swisher's two-run shot in the fourth and a strong performance out of the Yankee bullpen.
After the game, the Garcia expressed his self-analysis in the simplest terms.
"I'm glad to do my job and get a win," he said.